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New digital labeller brings in new business

Malmesbury Labels, a flexo printer based in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, UK, has invested in an Allen Datagraph Systems, iTech Centra HS digital label system to produce cost-effective four-colour labels in smaller quantities for its customers.

Malmesbury Labels manufacture and print self-adhesive labels for a wide range of applications, from food and drink products to general packaging and labelling. With over 40 years of design and printing experience, they use the latest technology to produce self-adhesive labels to the highest quality standards – typically printing on paper and synthetic materials with adhesives to match label requirements.

“We have a three and four-colour flexo press. Our larger clients order longer runs of 40-50,000 labels, while the typical client orders 6-8,000 spot colour labels,” notes Howard Burr, Malmesbury MD.

“The challenge is that many four-colour label jobs come with new artwork, and are likely to be run only once. To create the labels and pay £150 for four plates and for dies to manufacture runs of 1,000 is too expensive. It’s why we decided to invest in a digital printing and finishing system.”

Malmesbury considered the expenditure too high to be viable for larger systems. Unfortunately, many of the more economical systems could not print accurately on pre-cut media. Some of the analogue cutters had problems with digital printing. Malmesbury wanted a completely digital solution, if possible.

About 18 months ago when Howard visited Labelexpo Europe, they had determined that purchasing both print and finishing capabilities would be too expensive. “Then we saw the Centra HS,” remembers Howard. “It seemed to be more industrial-based than other affordable systems. A demo at Allen Datagraph’s US headquarters in Derry, NH confirmed that it was more a printer’s press than a brand owner’s machine.”

The system is a complete digital solution that efficiently manufactures label runs of 300-900 linear metres of roll substrate. It produces fully finished labels, in any shape without dies, fitting the needs between table top label production and full-scale production – for a fraction of the cost of other digital presses – with low, on-going operational expenses.

The system combines printer and finisher. The printer is an LED toner printer that images consumer-quality labels with brilliant, durable, consistent colour at 1200 dpi X 600 dpi, at speeds up to 9.1 metres per minute. The finisher is a high-speed roll-to-roll digital finishing system that lets users laminate, die-less cut, strip the waste matrix and slit custom labels in one production pass. Requiring no dies, make-ready, or running waste, the system offers the professional converter ‘on demand’ converting capabilities.

“Technology is shifting so rapidly. In the Centra HS we saw something we needed now – a digital capability. We can produce a four-colour label within a day or so,” says Howard. “The system has an attractive ROI, and offered us easy entry into the market. It is fulfilling our requirements.”

“We have been running the it for three months. It turns around multicolour work very quickly, and can cut any shape or size,” says Howard. “A lot of the jobs we produce it are much more viable than our only other option: flexo. Normally we would have to take artwork and send it to the platemaker. Now, we get the artwork, add dielines, and we’re good to go.”

“We are dealing with smaller brand owners who want to see labels that meet their expectations. We can produce a variety of labels without a huge ‘inventory’ commitment from our clients,” comments Howard.

In Cheltenham, a town near Malmesbury, Banksy, the graffiti artist, recently appeared one night and spray-painted his graffiti art on an outside wall. The artwork, surrounding a phone booth, is of three men with listening kits. The UK government listening post, GCHQ, based in the town, monitor calls and internet communications, and Banksy was having fun with it.

“We do work for a local brewery. One of their customers wanted to sell 500 bottles of two customised beers to commemorate the occasion. So, we helped them create two, four-colour labels for a Banksy beer, which were delivered to the store—all within days from his visit,” remarks Howard. “Without the new system, we couldn’t have done it. The bottles arrived in the shop in time, allowing the brewery to get in on the media hype.”

“The Banksy labels are typical of the work that’s perfect for the this digital label system. It’s a good product at a price that is viable for printers of our size,” concludes Howard. “We were looking for a digital printer and finisher that did not require a massive investment for our initial foray into digital. And now, when we look for new business, I don’t mind working with companies that need only 1,000 labels.”

Pictured: Bansky Beer with labels produced by Malmesbury Labels on the Allen Datagraph iTech Centra HS digital label system.

26 January 2015 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor